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Tiger tops Independent’s girls soccer all-star team

ADDISON COUNTY — The Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ soccer team made history this fall by earning the program’s first Division II championship, and unsurprisingly Coach Dustin Corrigan’s 14-4 Eagles are well-represented on the 2014 Addison Independent Girls’ Soccer All-Star team. Six Eagles are honored here, three from a back line that allowed just 10 goals in 18 games.
But the single most valuable player suited up for another of the four local programs this fall: Middlebury junior central defender Kelsey Smith, and she is the 2014 Addison Independent Player of the Year.
Smith keyed a Tiger team that under Coach Wendy Leeds’ guidance enjoyed its best season in more than two decades, finishing 9-3-3 — including eight wins by one goal as defense proved vital for the Tigers, also. Another MUHS defender and a versatile young midfielder join Smith on the Independent team.
Youth was the story for the other area programs. Co-coaches Dwight Irish and Peter Maneen’s Vergennes squad had just three seniors on its roster and won three times, while first-year coach Rick Hedding’s Otter Valley group included just one senior and failed to break through for a victory. Both teams are represented here by talented junior midfielders.
Selections for Independent teams are made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:   
KELSEY SMITH, MUHS JUNIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Unquestionably the anchor in the middle of a Tiger back line that allowed 14 goals overall, one in its last four games … Combines technical ability, defensive smarts, tenacity, skills and field vision with competitiveness and a love of the game … Plays excellent positional defense within the team concept and in one-on-one situations, and makes excellent decisions with the ball.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She is consistently brilliant at all aspects of her job as sweeper … Her soccer IQ is superior. She communicates and directs well from the back line, loves to attack and will look for any opportunity to carry the ball forward at speed … Kelsey is absolutely relentless and very strong physically and mentally.”
REED MARTIN, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Quick, athletic central defender who covered a tremendous amount of territory … Had the speed, skills and range in the middle to allow Mount Abe to switch to a three-back system and put more resources forward … Joined with her fellow defenders and goalie to post 12 shutouts, including four clean playoff sheets, against the toughest local schedule.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She played absolutely error-free all throughout the playoffs and had the big plays … She’s an outstanding leader … As a defender, one-v-one she’s very tough … She’s just all-around a strong player … We played three in the back quite a lot, and to do that you have to have someone with Reed’s athleticism there.”
JESSE McKEAN, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Savvy, skilled defender whose communication skills helped keep the Eagles organized in the back and who was always in the right place at the right time … Probably the best defender locally heading the ball … Shows fine touch on the ball and makes good decisions.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s going to play out of the back and maintain possession of the ball. She can just play out of pressure so well … It’s really Jesse who’s the general back there, talking to the rest of the defense … Jesse’s just a very, very intelligent soccer player reading the game.”
CLAIRE ARMSTRONG, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Quick, smart and determined defender … Very rarely loses individual battles or foot races for the ball … Possesses the skill, strong leg and poise to make good plays out of the back after winning the ball, and the ability to step into the attack.
Leeds’ Quotes: “She’s fast, and brilliant at closing on her attackers … She’s tenacious, has a huge foot and seems to always win the one-v-one foot race … Claire brings great energy to the group. She loves the game and is happiest when there’s a ball at her feet.”
ZOE CASSELS-BROWN, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Quick and technically proficient goalie who backstopped the stingy Eagle defense … Missed four games while hurt, and allowed seven goals in 16 games for a 0.438 goals-against average … Posted 11 of the Eagles’ 12 shutouts … Particularly adept at leaving the net to break up plays and defuse threats.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She seldom has to make a save, but she comes out and makes a lot of big plays reading the game and cutting off plays … She’s constantly switched on and communicating … All the goalkeeping stuff, when it comes to the technical aspects, she’s outstanding … She does not hesitate at all … She’s totally fearless and aggressive.”
ERNESTA McINTOSH, MT. ABE SOPHOMORE. Notes: Tireless, talented central midfielder whose seven goals and eight assists were both local highs … Seemed to be everywhere at once, using her skills to score and set up teammates and her speed and strength to disrupt opponents and win the ball … Came on strong as the season progressed and recorded four goals and two assists in the playoffs.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She can play 80 minutes and cover twice as much ground as anybody else and at the end of it she looks like she’s ready to do it again … She’s incredibly talented with her touch on the ball, and she sees attacking spaces … She could so quickly transition from attacking to defending. Our opponents at midfield could never relax on the ball … She’s a physical phenom with her pace and how long and fast she can run.”
AMY NAULT, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Competitive, physical central midfielder who excelled at protecting the Eagle back line and moving the ball into the attack to set up chances, recording two assists … Relentless ball-winner with the skill to possess … Her long throw-ins added an extra dimension, and one set up the game-winning goal in the final.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “Amy’s strength is really defensively in the midfield … She wins balls, and when she does win balls or in support goes and gets it, she knows what to do with it … Playing those penetrating passes, Amy does very well … And the long throw-in is a nice touch, too. It was almost as good as a corner kick.”
JUNIPER NARDIELLO SMITH, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Versatile, skilled soccer player who was moved in the midseason from central midfield to striker and finished with five goals and two assists … Creative playmaker and determined defender who played through injury this fall.
Corrigan’s Quotes: “She’s truly a central midfielder, but we needed goals … Her work rate is incredible … She’s got great feet off the dribble to turn people and connect with her teammates … When we lose possession of the ball, Junie just gets after it right away … She’s got the skill to receive the ball, hold it up, and combine with teammates … She’s just got grit.”
ANDI BOE, MUHS FRESHMAN. Notes: Quickly earned a starting berth and played nearly every minute of every game, mostly at central midfield but also at striker … First on the team in points with four goals and three assists … Quick, technical player with the field vision to set up teammates and the ability to finish … Scored two late goals in key 3-2 win over Mill River.
Leeds’ Quotes: “No one outworks Andi … She was very effective in the central midfield, pressuring and creating attacking opportunities for our forwards … Her foot skills, coachability, and knowledge of the game are top-notch.”
KAREENA VORSTEVELD, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Tough, aggressive midfielder who picked up a goal and an assist this fall … Big and athletic with good stamina, touch on the ball and distribution skills … Strong defender and ball-winner at midfield.
Irish’s Quotes: “Kareena was the engine that drove us. When she was going well, we were going well … She could play 80 minutes without losing steam … Defensively, she is fearless and determined … She’s as good a ball-winner as I’ve seen and very strong in the air … Her willingness to be coached is another strength as it reflects the strides she is making as a player.”
LEXI HEDDING, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Smart, skilled midfielder who also saw time at striker and scored two of OV’s five goals this fall … Quick, two-way player who defended well and helped OV transition the ball up the field … Showed good field vision and distribution ability.
Hedding’s Quotes: “Lexi operates at a very high level of competitiveness … She is the best on the pitch at seeing the field, one of the most important skills … She is the complete player with good defensive positioning and skills, good foot skills and good decision making … As a captain she exemplified professionalism, focus and dedication.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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